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Posts Tagged ‘in a world where it’s so cool to scowl i think it’s epic to smile’

I don’t want to sadden everyone today, but we gotta get up from here, kids.

credit: ClickFlashPhotos

credit: ClickFlashPhotos

I get it.  I really do.  And we’ll get to that in a minute.

But I was on the metro yesterday, and the sadness was suffocating.  Every single face was its own perfect storm: furrowed brow, droopy eyes, frowned lips.  There was only reclusive color: a sea of grays and blacks and browns; the kinds of colors perfect for blending into shadows.

I felt out of place.  But not because I don’t have any reason to fret or fear or fall.  It was because when people are that sad, you feel as if they should be left alone.  You don’t belong in that moment.  They don’t want to be seen.  They want to curl up in bed, pull up the comforter and watch reruns of their favorite sitcom or the last movie they watched with him before he left or the first movie they watched with the her that got away.  They want them to themselves.

And there I stood in the middle of it, my eyes bouncing from face to glass to another face to floor, trying to notice unnoticed, feeling guilty for having boarded with a smile.

Then today, just walking down the street, I saw the second person I’d seen in the last two days sitting in a car at a light just crying; just sitting and weeping, waiting on more than the light to change.  I thought of Jonny Lang’s “Red Light:”

Too slow to roll
Put your life on hold
An open path
With nowhere to go
You start to wonder
While sitting at a red light

And I know none of them are reading this.  But for those of you who are, we gotta get up from here.  The energy in this city is fleeting.  I know part of this is because DC’s unemployment rate is 9.9% as of February.  That’s 1 in 10 of every person we know.

I get it.  My family is struggling, too.  Our last three years?  There are parts of it you wouldn’t believe if I told you.  The parts I can tell without (I pray) revealing too much of the lives of others…

All three parents have lost their careers: mom, dad and step-mom.  My dad lost his after 26 years, 5 days before his birthday this February.  It was the only job I’ve ever been alive to see him have.  It was part of his identity.

Two Christmases ago, my brother, mom and I spent Christmas at my place here in DC because it was the only home between the three of us.  Why?  My brother was still in the dorm stage in college.  And for the last three years, my mom has been living with friends in Pennsylvania.  We sold and packed our home in Connecticut three years ago to move to PA.  But a lingering complication has meant the closing on the PA house has still yet to happen.  We still haven’t moved my mom into that home.  For three years, she’s been with friends there, while everything that made our house our home is in storage: baby pictures, furniture, you name it.  My place was the only “home” any one of us had.  Our Christmas presents to each other were homemade gifts that year.  And the money I’m able to send home since then just isn’t “mortgage money.”

After failing the bar exam last summer, unable to rely on the promise of a law license to find a job, but also unable to hide the last three years and a law degree from my resume when applying for things like retail after the first 150 resumes to firms went unrewarded, I started the fall telemarketing, just to make ends meet.  Everyone I knew from law school was at a firm right away and I was asking people for money over the phone, during a recession.  One night, one of my randomly-assigned calls actually went to someone I had sat next to in a few classes.

In just the last few weeks alone, my brother has been in a car accident that nearly totaled his car, almost three years to the day his best friend lost his life in a car accident, and also had his home burglarized.

So I get it.  This thing called life will break us if we let it.

But my family still smiles when we talk to each other on the phone.  And we still laugh when we see each other.  And no one who has met me in real life lately would know any of this if I hadn’t told them, because I still smile when I walk down the street or sit across a table at happy hour.  Because at a time when everything seems so able to defeat us, I know we’re incapable of being defeated.

And though I may not have met you, I have to believe the same about you.  I just do.  I don’t believe the smiles we wear on our morning metro rides should be secrets, let alone never worn at all.  There has to be a way to deal with this while we face it, not just once it’s a memory.

Maybe you were one of those people on the train yesterday.  Or maybe you gave up on this post paragraphs ago because none of it seems like a big deal.  Maybe it’s just April and the rain.  I don’t know.

But for today, I hope at least some of you use the space to talk about why you’ve felt burdened lately (if you have) or why you’re still smiling anyway.

Because these are our options:

you can wait for ages
watch your compost turn to coal
but time is contagious
everybody’s getting old.
so you can sit on chimneys
put some fire up your ass
no need to know what you’re doing or looking for
but if anyone should ask..
tell them i’ve been cookin’ coconut skins
and we’ve been hanging out
tell them god just dropped by to forgive our sins
and relieve us our doubt

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